Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A childrens story: Unity!

As the moon slipped into bed and the sun yawned over the horizon, a cry of desperation and fear rose up from the misty slumber of the wetland.

Hippo bellowed in frustration. She was stuck! She had gone foraging that night, as Hippo’s do, but as she was returning at dawn to the safety and comfort of the river she had sunk heavily, up to her flanks, in the muddy river bank and she was completely immobilised!

Fish Eagle heard Hippo’s desperate call and dropped from his lofty, lightning scarred perch on a Willow and scoured the river until he spotted Hippo. He assessed the situation from overhead. Then he shrilled,
“Rally together all you inhabitants of the wetland! Hippo is in grave danger!”
Hippo was indeed in serious trouble, for in the distance Fish Eagle eyed the almost unnoticeable wake forming on the glasslike surface of the river.

Again Fish Eagle's cry echoed out across the wetland,
“Everyone gather around Hippo, she needs all of you! Crocodile is on his way!”
He could see that drastic action needed to be taken, as he viewed the potential disaster unfolding before him.

Buffalo, Flamingo, Otter, Terrapin, Heron, Weaver and the Bees were there in a flash. There were reeds close by, waist deep at the waters edge.
The flustered friends’ voices rose in panic as they tried to devise a plan to save Hippo!

Suddenly Otter squinted skyward and called out in his loudest voice,
Fish Eagle cocked his head inquisitively against the blue canvass of the early morning sky.
When Otter had finished relating his idea the others scoffed at Otter’s plan and doubted that it could work. Unperturbed he gazed at Fish Eagle seeking his approval. Seeing the bigger picture and the impending danger, the leader said determinedly;
“Do it.”

Heron stood close to the quivering bulk of Hippo and comforted her by talking softly into her flattened ears. She looked into Hippo’s eyes with a comical side to side motion which distracted Hippo and helped her feel slightly more composed.

Otter then called to Terrapin;
“Please ask the reeds if they may be of use in this critical rescue.” Unquestioningly the reeds yielded to the plan.
Terrapin then bit off a few strands at the lower end of the reeds stems. The Weavers took the reeds that Terrapin had placed before them and immediately started to strip the leaves into thin manageable pieces. Then they began the task of plaiting and weaving a most magnificent rope!

Fish Eagle’s heart started to race as he spied Crocodile slinking even closer to Hippo. As he glared down at Crocodile, Crocodile lifted his head ever so slightly and Fish Eagle could see his enormous, jagged smile.
“Hurry!” He cried out to the others.
Flamingo flapped her beautiful pink wings, fluffed her feathers and danced around excitedly, not really doing much, but encouraging and motivating the rescue party.
“You can do it! You can do it!” she shrieked.

Otter called on the Bees to maintain unity between the animals.
“Bees, you need to make sure that everybody has what they need. You must communicate my instructions to everybody, at the precise moment, so that the plan does not fail.”

As Crocodile cruised around the bend in the river, Fish Eagle shouted;
“Here he comes!”
The Weavers would not have enough time to complete their masterpiece!
Fear seeped into the hearts of the animals.
Suddenly Terrapin raised her head from under the murky water;
“Otter, would you help me please?”
“Certainly,” replied Otter.
Terrapin and Otter disappeared into the river and swam upstream to consult with Big Fish. They found him floating lazily in a pool near the river bank. Terrapin hurriedly asked him;
“Fish we need your assistance in saving Hippo from Crocodile, but it will be a very dangerous task!”
“Tell me what you want me to do.” He replied.
“We would like you to be a decoy to distract Crocodile whilst we try to rescue Hippo.”
“What’s in it for me?” flicked Fish.
“We will persuade Hippo to protect you from Crocodile and ask her to provide you with shade during the heat of the day.”
“I’ll do it.” Fish agreed.

Terrapin and Otter watched with relief as Fish raced downstream towards Crocodile. Otter returned to the bank and Terrapin lurked in the shallows in case Fish needed her help, if he got into trouble. As he neared the smirking Crocodile, Fish leapt up and danced on the water in a glittering flurry of colour. Crocodile’s head snapped to the side as he was distracted by the flashing, silvery form of Fish.
Crocodile sped after Fish. The plan had worked!

Urgent activity continued on the river bank. The sun baked down on Hippo’s back as Heron tried in vain to protect her from the scorching heat. A chorus of chirps from the Weavers above alerted Otter, he looked up and saw that the rope was now complete. What a magnificent rope it was too. The quality of the workmanship had never been seen by the crowd before. It was truly awesome and strong.

Otter stood on his two hind legs and called to Buffalo for his assistance.
“Buffalo, bend down so that we may tie this rope around your horns. We will tie the other end around Hippo’s neck and once it is secured Fish Eagle will give the call for you to pull Hippo out of his muddy trap. All the animals will help you too!”
“Bees, make sure everyone is in place…”

So the rope was deftly fastened to Buffalo and Hippo. All the animals grasped the rope and took their positions at either Hippo’s or Buffalo’s rump in preparation to push.
Everyone tensed and held their breath. Buffalo took up the slack.

“NOW!” cried Fish Eagle as he swooped down over the gathering.

Buffalo tugged, the animals heaved, the bees counted 1…2…3…pull and with a loud ‘plop!’ Hippo was freed from his muddy trap!
“Hooray!” shouted everyone!
“We’ve done it!”

Just as everybody was congratulating one another, Hippo whispered,
Everyone turned to see Crocodile corner Fish in the shallows.
“Oh no!”

The animals froze as Hippo bellowed and charged towards the river where Fish was struggling to swim with any strength. Crocodile waded up to Fish and opened his enormous mouth. Fish resigned himself to his fate, his colour waning with his hope. Crocodile’s mouth suddenly snapped shut! All who had their eyes closed heard a thrashing in the water. They pried their eyes open to see Hippo with one foot firmly planted on the head of Crocodile! Fish slipped away, in relief, to the dark depths of the river. Hippo took her massive hoof off Crocodile’s head and he thundered into the river to get as far away as he could.

Later that day, after the festivities and congratulations had died down, Fish Eagle landed on his perch in the Willow tree. Calm had settled over the wetland.

Hippo was safe and as her eyes and ears protruded from the surface of the river, there nestled between her huge legs was a very content Fish. A new, true relationship had been formed, based on strength and trust!


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